A state of tension and cautious anticipation prevails in the town of Marea, north of Aleppo, as the Islamic State (IS) has reached the city’s outskirts. Marea was among the first Syrian regions that shifted from peaceful to armed uprising against the regime in Aleppo three years ago.

In one of the halls on the outskirts of the city, a group of men is helping prepare meals for opposition fighters, cooking rice in a large pot. While a cook tastes the “lemon pumpkin,” which is ready to serve, others apportion food into individual meals, loading them in cars to be transferred to the front lines.


Many civilians who had never previously fought in the ranks of the opposition have now taken up arms to face IS fighters, who are closing in. As for those who did not take up weapons, they help provide psychological and logistical support for fighters. […]